Japan is pushing to revive its nuclear industry, despite strong public opposition.

Shikoku Electric Power has switched on the No 3 reactor at its Ikata nuclear power plant.

The plant in Ehime prefecture, about 700 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, went silent along with dozens more reactors across Japan in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima accident.

Local residents filed a lawsuit to stop the restart, but with the support of the prefecture's governor and the mayor of the plant's host town in its favour, the pro-nuclear push is starting to make steam again.

Japan's reactors all fell silent in the face of strong public safety concerns after the after the earthquake/tsunami incident, but this forced a move to expensive fossil fuels.

Community groups across Japan have been filing lawsuits to prevent restarts in direct opposition to Mr Abe's pro-nuclear stance.

A court ruling in April has allowed Japan's two still-functioning nuclear reactors to remain online, while two other reactors in central Japan were briefly restarted in March, before a legal challenge saw the courts order them back offline.

With last Friday’s restart, Japan will have three operating reactors, and furious local residents say they will fight to keep that number low.

“We protest this restart of the Ikata nuclear reactor and are extremely angry,” the residents' group said in a statement.

The group says the reactor's plutonium-uranium MOX fuel made it especially dangerous.

“We can't have another Fukushima.”

The plant’s operator has pledged to maintain its “ceaseless efforts” to ensure plant safety while keep residents informed about details of the restart.